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Published: March 18th 2006
An important ingredient for having a good time during the carnival
Good news: I found a way to share videos. If you want to view them, then read this How to play the videos
blog. There you’ll find a video of Salvador but also of other locations I have been to.
A quote from someone else’s website:
Salvador's Carnival got into the 2005 edition of the Guinness Book as the biggest Carnival and the biggest street party on earth. Each year, two million people crowd the streets and roads of the city during the six days of Carnival.
Yes big, crowded, dirty and smelly it was but hell it was fun.
I arrived safe and secure at my hostel which to my surprise really had a bed for me. I had quite a few problems with the booking and at one stage I had four beds then none and then maybe one. You can imagine that I was really relieved when they had a bed for me. Due to the confusion with the booking I got put into a four bed female dorm (I did not complain 😉
At the hostel I also met up with Pelin a good friend from Sydney. We were planning to meet up in Salvador as we were both going to the Carnival and we will travel together for a couple of weeks after.
One striking feature about Salvador is that the population is mainly black. This is due to the heavy use of African slaves during
View of the beach
During the night it also doubled as the men’s toiled. Luckily the tide comes right up to the wall which can be considered the biggest flush toilet in the world
the colonial times and it seems that this region was the main user of slave labour. It was quite strange to be the “visible” foreigner as there were not a lot of foreigners around and most of them where not as white (yes I still have no colour at all) nor as tall. Saying that I never had any problems because of it or got hassled.
The Carnival itself is in three different places over the city. Two are in the Cidade Alta ("Upper City"), which is the old and pretty part of the city and one in the Cidade Baixa (“Lower City”) around the suburb of Barra which was also the suburb where I stayed. As there is quite a difference in height between the lower and the upper city they build an elevator as means to get from the lower part to the upper part.
The Carnival in Salvador is quite different from what happens in Rio which is what you will know from TV. The Carnival is actually different in each region of Brazil and has its own flavour added depending on the racial mix and taste of the population. The Carnival in Salvador works
Igreja Sao Francisco
Unfortunately the church was closed during the Carnival but it apparently contains some interesting religious artifacts. Slaves which had to build the church (but weren’t allowed to practice their own religion) created some of the angels in the church with enlarged sex organs or made them appear pregnant
mainly like this: huge trucks with thousands of watts of sound system carry well known bands along an up to 10 km predefined route. The bands play a variety of mostly Brazilian music like Axe, Samba and traditional African music but there also some more heavy metal inspired groups and even Fatboy Slim did a gig. Every night for six nights there are anywhere between 10 and 20 trucks on each circuit followed by thousands and thousands of people.
You have three choices if you want to participate in the Carnival (and why else would you be here). You can either stand by the side and get crushed by the shear amount of people trying to move around or dance, you can go and buy an Abada (t-shirt) and get into a Bloco or you can go to a Camarote and sip you beer and watch people from above. A Bloco is a roped off area around each truck which you are only allowed to enter if you bought the right T-shirt. The T-shirts themselves can be quite expensive and range anywhere between USD20 and USD150 depending on the band which is playing. The benefit of being inside a Bloco
The old town Pelourinho looks like this everywhere
It’s a completely different matter when you leave the "old city". Then you find the usual concrete jungle and worse
is that it is a bit more secure than standing outside as there are fewer people inside the roped of area than there are outside. The rope itself is held by support staff as the truck is moving and therefore the Bloco moves too all the time. A Camarote is a viewing platform which is erected for the Carnival. There you can sip your beer enjoy the food and view the parade from above.
The Carnival goes on for six days or better nights and starts normally anytime between 2 and 4pm and ends sometime around 6am. That doesn't mean that it’s all quiet afterwards. The people of Salvador seem to like to put huge sound systems in their small cars and they kick in once the parade finished. As you can image few go to bed before sunrise and sleep in until the late hours.
The first day we went up to the old city sightseeing during the day where we met Christian a Brazilian guy who lives now in Poland. He is a Capoeira teacher there and comes back every year for the Carnival and knows the city quite well (and it seems that everyone knew
The people in Salvador are very friendly (no not what you think) and helpful. More than once people warned us not to go into a certain area or helped us to get rid of some people that hassled us.
him too). He showed us around the place for the next three nights which was great as we went to places I wouldn’t have ventured into just by ourselves.
Two rather weird incidents happened on the third night on the way back. As taxis are fairly expensive we chose to take the bus which is normally a quite safe option. This time we didn’t count in the huge traffic jam that occurs at 3am! Because of this the bus trip took 1.5 hours instead of the normal 15 minutes. It was also crammed full (and I really mean full full) with sweaty people so that you couldn’t breath anymore.
When we tried to get of the bus I suddenly felt as if someone is opening the zipper of the side pocket of my shorts. Right I was. When I looked down there was a small hand trying to open the pocket where I normally keep my cash. He didn’t seem to really care that I knew as he, after I slapped on his hand the first time, tried it again a couple of seconds later. You might be glad to hear that he wasn’t successful in the end. So
The guys in the orange/red shirts are holding a rope which marks the area of the Bloco. Only people who bought the t-shirt are allowed inside.
that was incident number one. Number two was that Pelin while trying to get out of the bus got bitten on the bum by an overly enthusiastic guy.
That was the only time where anyone tried to rob us or did something weird. We heard lot worse stories from people who went to Rio.
Anyhow back to the Carnival. The last three nights of the Carnival were spent behind a truck in a Bloco. Luckily the Brazilian music is easy to dance to (just try to move your bum and you will be alright) and the atmosphere is great (We really should import some Brazilians to make our parties more lively).
One thing you have to admire the people of Salvador for, is that they make sure that no one is hungry or (more important) thirsty. There were street sellers with little bbq’s and eskies everywhere selling kebabs, grilled cheese (yummy), Caipirinhas and other mixed drinks and lots of beer.
As I said in the beginning it was the best street party I’ve ever been to and I highly recommend it to anyone. The prices rice obviously during the Carnival season and a dorm bed which normally
View of some Camarotes
A Camarote is basically a grand stand for people who do not want to be in a Bloco or stand on the side of the street
costs USD10 suddenly costs USD60 but its worth it.
If you want to know more about Salvador then click here
More pics of the Carnival can be found here
After the Carnival finished we went down to a place called Porto Seguro to relax a little bit but we didn’t count on the crazy Brazilians down there. The Carnival here is three days longer than in Salvador. Not really wanting to see another one I went to bed at 9.30 (hardly slept the night before on the 15 hour bus ride) but woke up wide awake at 2.30 (Carnival habits die hard). Luckily the parade was still going on so we decided to have a look. It is basically the same as in Salvador just on a lot smaller scale and with one addition. Somehow they think here like in Paraguay that young women in skimpy dresses are a good idea (and who doesn’t). Therefore they had a separate truck with them. (check out the video).
After that we went to an even smaller town called Arraial da Ajuda where I spend most of the time in a hammock reading my book. So nothing
Vendors getting ready for the next night
There were people with little eskies selling beer and water everywhere. For the amount of beer drunk during the course of a night the people were amazingly peaceful. There were not many fights and if there was one the police came quickly.
to report from there.
Next stop Rio.
This is where Brazil is
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